People living in Wiltshire are being asked if they want a new health record intended to help when they need unscheduled, emergency or out of hours treatment.
Letters will be sent to adults in Wiltshire from Monday (April 30) telling people about this national scheme, which puts a summary of patients’ medications, allergies and any previous adverse reactions to drugs onto a centrally held computer system. Known as the Summary Care Record (SCR), it will be used by doctors and clinicians to make decisions when the GP’s record is not available.
This will save time for patients and clinical staff, and help clinicians make the right decisions for patients. The scheme is operating in some parts of the country and already there are examples of patients saved from harm because their SCR warned staff about an allergy.
The scheme is being backed by several patient groups representing those with long term conditions such as asthma, diabetes and muscular dystrophy.
If a person agrees to have a SCR, they need not reply to the letter. They have twelve weeks in which to decide whether or not to opt out.
People can simply ‘opt out’ of the scheme using the form which comes with the letter and posting it or dropping it into their GP surgery. SCRs will be automatically created for children, so parents or guardians of children under sixteen may wish to discuss the Summary Care Record with them and complete the opt out form on their behalf if they wish.
Patients attending A&E or an Out of Hours service must be asked permission before a doctor or nurse can view their SCR. If the record is accessed without permission (perhaps if the patient was unconscious), an alert is generated and investigated by NHS Wiltshire, the organisation responsible for GP care provision.
Alerts are generated for all accesses and a proportion where permission has been given will be audited to make sure the rules were followed.
‘Smartcards’ with chip and pin technology and pre-defined access rights are being issued to NHS professionals who may need to use these new records. Each card is unique to an individual and that person must have a justifiable reason for viewing the SCR.
Other extensive security arrangements have been put in place and the Summary Care Record is now considered more secure than internet banking.
Full details, including Frequently Asked Questions and opt out forms are available on NHS Wiltshire’s web site.